Mega Trends and the future of reading and writing

This post is brought to you by Wattpad Co-Founder and CEO Allen Lau.

It is a golden era for technology companies. In the past, new technologies emerged as people built from existing ideas; improving and iterating on old designs and knowledge. From the mid-2000s to today, we have seen the rise of three simultaneous mega trends:

  1. mobile technology
  2. social media
  3. cloud-computing

Billions of dollars have changed hands as a result of these three mega trends.

2015 marks the second half of this golden decade for technology. It is the perfect time to reflect on the past and make prediction about the future. Mobile, social, and cloud are all still big things in our society, but I believe these 4 emergent mega trends will define the rest of the decade:

1.) Decentralization

The Internet is very good at Decentralization. To see this, one has only to look at how Facebook and Youtube affected broadcast media.

These startup companies grew dramatically thanks to increases in the capabilities of connected devices and high speed WiFi. Facebook and YouTube also benefit from a largely centralized Internet. Today, data is the new oil. These companies use internal data and monetize from it. On a scale that large they seem invincible, but are they?

The decentralization of the Internet is far from over. Just like they don’t resemble the traditional companies that they disrupted, they can also be disrupted by innovators that decentralize data and provide different values like improved privacy.

2.) Fragmentation of the Internet

The number of Internet users zoomed past 2 billion and it’s become apparent that this global village might not be as homogenous as we might have envisioned.  We have already seen the increasingly regulated Internet arise, as well as the fragmented Chinese Internet.

The next billion Internet users will likely be accessing the Internet very differently (different type of devices, payment models, apps and content).  This poses new challenges, but also opens new opportunities for entrepreneurs to create applications that work on a global scale.

3.) The Internet of things

Everyone (except me) is now building a lightbulb or bathtub that connects to the Internet.  Although we haven’t seen the “killer apps” for “The Internet of Things” yet, when all your devices are all interconnected, the network effects will be greatly increased and disruptive magic will happen.

4.) New Platforms

As web 1.0 (read-only) evolved to web 2.0 (the social web), the importance of the underlying operating systems (OS) diminished as the browser became the new OS (which is partially responsible for the resurgence of Macs).

Mobile is now the dominant platform, the operating system is moving up the stack and evolving. Nowadays almost all popular apps are available on both Android and iOS.

While most of that data is now stored in the cloud, switching from Android to iOS and vice versa is quite seamless if you choose to switch. This lessens the importance of the underlying OS.  Where people spend their time will become the new operating system if these apps allow people to build things on top of them. In other words, messaging apps can become the new browser.

Truly, magic happens when multiple mega trends occur simultaneously. As someone looking to connect the world through a shared love of stories, I’m excited by the prospects of the future.

Of course, nobody knows exactly what the world will look like in December 2020. All I know is that if history is any indication, exciting times are ahead.

3 comments

  1. This is powerful analysis of the future…thank you so much.

    I have learnt that Africa is still way backward. I am from Zimbabwe, myself…and I come across people without even cellphones everyday, not to mention those who have never touched a cellphone….plenty in the rural area. What more….of telling that person about data and centralized internet.

    Thank you so much Mr Lau!

    Liked by 1 person

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